August is here and most of us are drawn to the lakes and high mountains for a reprieve from the summer heat. Running in the morning allows us to escape the heat. Often, however, we find ourselves running in the heat of the day. Beginner and experienced runners alike must take extra steps to avoid overheating related issues.
Today I was humbly reminded how rapidly a race can change if hydration and nutrition is neglected. This summer I have focused on trail running races and training for my first 50-miler. I’ve been drinking the equivalent of one water bottle per hour, taken on board nutrition in small increments every thirty minutes or so with good results. Today, however, I raced in a 50-mile mountain bike race with unpredicted results.
Without adequate hydration and nutrition, the body is unable to efficiently produce the energy required to generate muscle contraction and relaxation. Power suffers, and malaise sets in. The “bonk” is an all too familiar feeling to endurance athletes. Although I felt great the first half of today’s race, the terrain and rising temperatures caught up with my inadequate fluid and food intake. I realized I was in trouble when I began feeling hungry!
One suggestion (learned the hard way) is to eat and drink on a time schedule rather than a distance schedule. By eating and drinking every thirty minutes, you will keep your body topped off and avoid depleting your reserves. Aid stations may not correlate with your body’s needs. Waiting until you are thirsty or hungry to take action often results in cramping, bonking, or heat related emergencies (heat exhaustion, heat stroke)
Hand held water bottles are a great way to insure adequate hydration. Water bottles with built-in filters are available for safe drinking water while trail running. Hydration packs are a great way to carry the water you need for a long run or hike. Remember to take on board electrolytes along with our water to keep your body operating efficiently and safely.
Enjoy the dog days of summer and get out and enjoy what summer running has to offer!
John Fiore, PT
Sapphire Physical Therapy